(MoDOT) presented two plans for the construction of a diverging diamond
interchange at I-55 and Hwy. 61 (Center Junction) during the July 26 special
meeting of SEMPO (Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization).
discussed, but MoDOT now had maps showing traffic flow for the early and late
stages of both plans.
MoDOT had originally put the construction of the interchange out for bid,
hoping for a price tag of around $12 million. On the original plans, traffic
would be down to one lane each way on Hwy. 61 and all freeway accesses would
remain open most of the time during the construction.
million, and all bids were rejected as being excessive.
lower bids by closing Hwy. 61 between Jackson and Cape for seven months.
Meanwhile, right turns on and off I-55 would remain open during construction.
One reason for the high bids was because it involved “a significant amount of
staging” to keep access open in all directions.
that closing through traffic between Jackson and Cape for seven months would
cause economic hardships for businesses in both communities, but especially
along Hwy. 61 in Jackson, and would make commuting between the cities a
would be free to build the diverging diamond lanes that will go under the I-55
bridges without having traffic in their way. Also, construction of new, shorter
I-55 bridges could go on unimpeded by traffic passing under them.
Cape on Hwy. 61 will transfer to the newly constructed diverging diamond. I-55
on and off ramps would remain right turn only until the project is completed in
about two years.
I-55 could not exit at Center Junction to go to Jackson. Traffic going
southbound on I-55 could not exit and go to Cape. Traffic would have to use a
different exit (William Street/Route K, East Main/LaSalle or Fruitland).
traffic, traffic going north on I-55 would have to exit toward Cape and make a
U-turn to get to Jackson, and traffic going southbound on I-55 would have to
exit into Jackson and make a U-turn to get to Cape.
Contractors could start construction as early as next March and phase 1 should
be completed by Nov. 1, 2020.
of Hwy. 61 for through traffic, MoDOT came up with a second option. This option
keeps through traffic open throughout most of the construction period but
closes the I-55 North on-ramp and I-55 South off-ramp (the ramps on the north
side of Hwy. 61) closed for about eight months from March to Dec. 1, 2020.
Hwy. 61 will be diverted near the cemetery onto the current eastbound passing
lane of Hwy. 61. One lane will remain open in each direction with head-to-head
traffic through the intersection.
the north side of Hwy. 61 can be taken and used where needed without traffic
being in the way. The new diverging diamond lanes will be constructed between
the current east and west bound lanes of Hwy. 61.
incentive written into the contract to make the contractor want to open up the
I-55 southbound ramp to Jackson earlier than eight months. Mark Shelton,
MoDOT’s project engineer, said that could be done.
construction, this option doesn’t allow traffic to flow from the SportsPlex
back to Cape Girardeau. All traffic from the SportsPlex will have to turn right
and go into Jackson. He said there can be 500 cars at a sports event. Shelton
said MoDOT will look at what can be done to fix that.
original plan that kept all interstate accesses open and through traffic on
Hwy. 61. He suggested that some costs would be cut by slightly changing the
requirements (already being done in the other options) and if bids still came
back higher, the difference may be offset by tax revenue that will not be lost
by businesses along Hwy. 61, which will suffer under both of the new options.
unable to go any further with the budget.”
requirement that contractors maintain the current southbound I-55 bridge
throughout the construction period, the type of concrete mix to be used, and
changing the time of construction from winter to summer, when prices for
material are less.
is and re-deck the I-55 bridges, and possibly resurface Hwy. 61 under it (for
an estimated cost of only $3.5 million), Jason Williams of MoDOT said doing so
would keep two very long 600 foot bridges on I-55 that are “nonstandard.”
Interstate bridges are now required to be 8 feet wider than these bridges.
Resurfacing the bridges would add 30 years of life, but the substructure of
those bridges is already more than 50 years old and is not “seismically
designed.” There also is a limited vertical clearance for Hwy. 61 under I-55.
The condition of these bridges is a “five” on a 10-point scale, he said.
expensive to maintain), and built to current standards. Also, the diverging
diamond interchange under I-55 will be safer and more efficient for traffic
flow when completed.
done to open the I-55 southbound exit into Jackson sooner than eight months,
and to allow SportsPlex traffic to go back into Cape Girardeau. MoDOT will
report back at the Aug. 21 SEMPO meeting.